One of the most important figures in the University of Houston-Downtown’s history is not a president or Regent, but a poet. Lorenzo Thomas was a Panamanian-born New Yorker with ties to the Umbra movement in Queens in the late 1960s. After gaining his PhD, he moved to Houston as a writer-in-residence at Texas Southern University in 1973 for one year, and never left Houston. Thomas would later tell an interviewer that someone told him “If you stay down here you’re not going to be a Southern poet; you’re going to be a forgotten poet.”
But he did stay, and kept publishing, and became a lecturer and professor at UHD, teaching writing and literature and acting as a faculty advisor for the Bayou Review literary journal. His poetry was known for its honesty and unique voice, and he was a beloved teacher here at UHD, where he was awarded an Excellence in Teaching award.
Dr. Thomas died in 2005 at the age of 60, after struggling with illness for several years.
Selected publications (look for his works in the UHD Library Catalog)
- Chances are Few (1st edition, 1980)
- The Bathers (1981)
- Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2000)
- Chances are Few (expanded 2nd edition, 2003) (ISBN 0-912652-77-2)
- Dancing on Main Street (2004)
- Don’t Deny My Name. Introduction Aldon Lynn Nielsen. University of Michigan Press. 2008 (posthumous)